Thousands and thousands of delightful babies and toddlers come swimming with Water Babies every week, and each one has a unique story to tell. But there are some children and families whose stories particularly stand out — and make us go 'Oooh!' - and we’d like to say a big ‘thank you’ for sharing them with us.
Toddler survives pool plunge
One of the reasons why you need to wait for the start of a new term before joining our classes is that each lesson carefully builds on what’s been learnt before. Halfway through chapter 1, for example, we’ll start teaching your little one to hold onto the rail at the side of the pool, adding extra elements each week. So by the end of the first year, your baby will have learnt to fall off the side, turn around, come to the surface, swim to the side, hold onto the rails … and maybe even climb out!
And when little Elizabeth Jelley fell into an unheated pool in the week of her second birthday, she did just that. Calmly waiting in the water until her mummy thankfully found her, eight minutes later.
Elizabeth Jelley making a splash in the Daily Mail
Learning from early infancy
Alexander, from Wigan, first came swimming with us when he was just 9 days old. In less than two months, he’d progressed to his front, could hold his breath underwater, could grip onto the side of the pool, and could swim a short distance under the surface. Since tiny babies have a strong reflex which lets them hold their breath underwater, beginning at such a young age will accelerate Alexander’s progress and offer huge benefits when he’s older.
Alexander at 9 days old
Therapeutic benefits for children with special needs
Emma, from Staffordshire, knows all about the benefits of baby-swimming for the physical and mental development of children with special needs. Her daughter Jess suffers from an unknown disorder which meant that she stopped developing at 4 months old. An MRI scan suggested that Jess might never walk or talk, but the Water Babies classes she started at just 5 weeks old helped to strengthen her muscles. “The water’s buoyancy means Jessica can float and paddle easily; she finds it hard to put weight on her legs on land, but in the water she’s equal to other children her own age. It’s wonderful to see her splashing about without a care in the world, just like any healthy child,” smiles Emma.
Jess enjoying the water
Even mums can conquer their fear of water
Fiona, from Cornwall, had always been terrified of water after accidentally falling into a swimming pool when she was very young. "I absolutely hated swimming lessons at school and as a result, never learnt to swim properly," she explains. However Fiona didn't want her children to inherit her fear of the water, so started taking her first son along to Water Babies when he was just 4 months old. "It was a really daunting prospect for me though," she explains, "but I wanted my children to grow up feeling really happy and confident in water. Our teacher's been so patient with me and I feel so much calmer in the water now. I can even put my head under, and that's something I'd never have been able to do before!"
Fiona taking the plunge with Hamish
A career change for one working mum
Kate was a hospital registrar in emergency medicine for 10 years until one day she decided on a major career change. She now runs her own Water Babies franchise, and in April 2012 she won ‘Franchisee of the Year’ at the Encouraging Women into Franchising Awards. Kate discovered the joys of baby swimming while on maternity leave: “I used to be so career-orientated, but having children meant my priorities changed completely. Working in the hospital meant long, anti-social hours, which isn’t great when you have a young family. At the beginning, running my Water Babies franchise was a steep learning curve, but it was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Now I have the work-life balance I’ve always wanted and can spend more time with my children. I absolutely love running my own business — it’s so rewarding!&rdquo
Kate, proud as punch, receiving her EWIF award
A toddler falls in a pool — and swims to safety unaided!
Two-and-a-half-year-old Joshua, from Marlow, saved himself from a potentially dangerous situation thanks to being a Water Baby. While on holiday in Portugal Joshua, who'd grown very confident around the pool since his swimming lessons with Water Babies from just 13 weeks old, decided he couldn't wait to get his swimming trunks on. After bending down to touch the surface of the water he lost his balance and toppled over the edge. "I dived in straight away," Dad, Simon, explained, "but by the time I'd surfaced, Joshua had turned himself around, reached for the side of the pool and was beginning to hoist himself out. He wasn't scared at all, just a little shocked by the temperature! I always wondered if the lessons would actually benefit him, and this incident proved to me the importance of the skills he's learnt."
Beating the odds with Down’s syndrome
Little Scarlet, from Lincoln, has Down’s syndrome and started coming to Water Babies when she was 6 months old. “When she was born, they said there were a lot of things Scarlet may not be able to do,” explains her mum. “But Water Babies has shown that Scarlet can do the same things as other children — and it’s given us the confidence to look into other activities which we can do together as a family.” Swimming has helped to improve Scarlet’s muscle tone; she can now hold onto the side of the pool, and at 8 months old she could sit up by herself. “Scarlet was the first one in the Water Babies class to blow bubbles and hold her breath underwater. She absolutely loves splashing around. Her dad and I are so proud of her, and it’s great to see how much she loves being in the water!”
Scarlet having fun